The Desmond Hotel welcomes Siena College students as pandemic slows hospitality industry

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Not everyone has been able to push through the financial brick wall brought down by the pandemic. A few local hotels have already pulled the plug, with the Red Lion Inn on Wolf Road permanently shutting its doors. Others say it’s still a struggle with 70 to 80 percent less business than normal.

“We are a conference hotel. We do large groups, as we’ve been doing for 40 some odd years, and you know trying to figure out something to replace that is a challenge,” explains The Desmond Hotel General Manager Tyler Desmond.

Desmond says they’ve lost close to 800 conferences, weddings, and other events since the pandemic. They’ve now opened doors instead to Siena College students who need dorm space and those on two week precautionary quarantines.

“They had needs to house people and we had rooms available, so it just sort of worked out for everybody. It certainly helps, but it is just one piece to help keep everything going,” he explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

Desmond says the deal does come at a reduced rate, so Siena Students don’t completely fill the gap left by absent guests. The hotel also now offers contracted rooms.

“Whether it’s airline crews or construction crews, [we’re] having them come in here, stay with us for a longer period of time. It’s not a typical piece of business that we go after, but it is a piece of business that we have really been going after hard right now,” Desmond explains.

He does add a bright side — fewer guests make planned renovations a bit easier. The Desmond Hotel has worked hard in recent years after buying into the IHG franchise. Crews will completely revamp all the rooms for when guests come back again.

“We will be opening up in November. We are really excited to show it off, and hopefully will have some people to show it off to,” Desmond says.

The Desmond Hotel is one of many across New York State to partner with colleges. The CrestHill Suites is no longer open for guests, instead housing University at Albany students while they undergo quarantines.

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